If you ask the children and families in Wediko’s residential treatment center, therapeutic summer camp, school-based services or outpatient groups, they can tell you the importance of mental health treatment. However, the sad reality is many families encounter far too many burdens on their path to necessary care.
While many of these burdens are rooted in the financials, specifically the often unrecognized additional costs for raising a child with a disability, there are a variety of hurdles that can stand in the way of accessing mental health services. Whether it’s difficulty scheduling time, a lack of childcare for other children in the family, or barriers to communication, Wediko strives to accommodate families and make mental health treatment a reality for those who really need it.
Here are Wediko’s top 10 tips for more accessible care:
- See Parents as Partners: Wediko works to approach parents with an attitude of respect and support. While they work hard to advocate for their child, we do everything we can to advocate for them as well, regarding them as experts on their child and respecting the additional knowledge and insight they bring to our work.
- Take Care of the Logistics: Whether it’s providing transportation to and from our offices and events, or providing childcare for the youngest members of the family, Wediko consistently works to keep the entire family in mind, reducing cost and concern in order to maximize the therapeutic experience.
- Diversity of Communication: To increase accessibility, Wediko provides services in the language most familiar to the family. Along with including multilingual services, Wediko clinicians use a variety of communication styles, presenting ideas verbally, visually, and/or through metaphor to accommodate different learning styles.
- Accommodate Busy Schedules: All families, especially those caring for a child with a disability or a condition such as anorexia nervosa, must balance multiple demands on their time. Wediko provides meeting reminders (via text or call) in the days leading up to a group/meeting/event, and sometimes even that morning.
- Group-based Support: Trauma, mental illness, and disability can be isolating. Wediko provides an extensive array of group-based support to build social support and community connections for participants.
- Nurture: Guardians advocating day in and day out for their child with a disability often lack the time or resources to properly take care of themselves. Wediko provides a safe and nurturing space for families – providing meals and emphasizing the formation of a mutual relationship to give a sense of ease and comfort.
- Think outside the 9 to 5: For many families, an appointment within the 9-5 window simply isn’t feasible. For some parents, only meetings during school hours are feasible. Wediko schedules meetings outside of standard business hours as well as during the school day in order to accommodate different schedules.
- Family-as-Client Care: Wediko’s ‘client’ is the family. Wediko assesses what the family needs (rather than what the agency provides) and matches services to those needs and requests. Families are provided with education and training to understand what their child/family is struggling with and what they can do about it.
- Best-Practice Supervision and Training: To care most comprehensively for children and their often stressed/strained families, care providers must be equipped with the best and most relevant tools. Wediko provides extensive supervision for staff surrounding strategies for family engagement, cultural sensitivity and awareness, and effective practices for engaging with a range of behaviors at various developmental stages.
- Focus on Strength and Resiliency: Wediko uses a strengths-based approach. A focus on family resiliency prioritizes consumer choice involvement in service development and evaluation, increasing skill-building and, ultimately, growth.
Access to necessary services is something Wediko takes very seriously. Extending Wediko’s emphasis on service accessibility, Executive Director Amy C. Sousa, Ph.D. seeks to influence policymakers with her article, “The Cost of Disability Advocacy: Adjusting the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Children with Disabilities.” Recently published in the Journal of Children and Poverty, Dr. Sousa details the impact (read: cost) of raising a child with a disability on almost all aspects of living, as well as the opportunity costs (ie: loss of wages) related to caretaking, care management, and advocacy. Read a summary on the Wediko blog.